33. Coffee consumption and cancers of the digestive tract – Part 2

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This is the third of six blog posts on the topic of coffee consumption and cancer research, concentrating on the impact of coffee consumption and cancers of the digestive tract. Coffee and Health also houses current scientific information on a wide range of other coffee-related topics.

Following is an overview of research conducted in this area.

Coffee consumption linked to reduced risk of liver cancer

Five meta-analysessuggest that regular coffee drinkers may have, on average, a 30% lower chance of developing liver cancer than non-coffee drinkers and the risk may be up to 55% lower in heavy coffee consumers.

A study in Hong Kong, among a group at high risk of developing liver cancer – chronic hepatitis B virus carriers, finds that moderate coffee drinkers, who drink coffee four times a week or more, have a 59% lower risk of developing liver cancer than non-drinkers.

Another 2009 study finds a 22% reduction in risk of the evolution of Hepatitis C to cancer for each cup of coffee consumed.

Possible mechanisms for observed effects include coffee’s ability to inhibit the rise of markers of liver disease, and its effect on reducing circulating levels of iron. The role of antioxidants and other coffee components has yet to be explored.

More research is needed to clarify the link between coffee and the risk of liver cancer.

Coffee drinking not linked to increased risk of pancreatic cancer

In 1990 the International Agency on Research on Cancer (IARC) considered that the previous evidence for a link between coffee and pancreatic cancer was inadequate.

A meta-analysis of over 50 studies by the World Cancer Research Fund reports no difference in risk of pancreatic cancer between coffee drinkers and non-coffee drinkers. Additionally, a large Japanese study of participants over 11 years also reports no increased risk related to coffee consumption; it actually saw a reduced risk in men consuming 3 cups of coffee a day compared to non-coffee drinkers.

Two further large meta-analysesfind a lower risk of developing pancreatic cancer in coffee drinkers. However, when smoking is taken into account, coffee consumption is not convincingly linked to pancreatic cancer risk.

Two Italian studies suggest there is no causal link between coffee and pancreatic cancer risk, because they find no link between the amount of coffee consumed, or how long participants have been drinking coffee for, and disease risk.

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